The Gaza War: Separating Reality from Fantasy
Reprinted from Daily Alert, August 1, 2014
The Arab League backed the Egyptian cease-fire-in-place, which would have left Hamas weak and isolated, to ensure that Hamas didn’t emerge from this war strengthened and enhanced. The American interest is to endorse and solidify this emerging axis of moderate pro-American partners (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states, and the Palestinian Authority) intent on seeing Islamist radicalism blunted and ultimately defanged. (Washington Post)
President Obama instructed Secretary of State Kerry “to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.” However, first, the 2012 agreement had done nothing to prevent Hamas from building up an elaborate network of tunnels to launch rockets and infiltrate Israel – and Israel is not about to live with tunnels that penetrate the country and constitute, in the words of one Israeli, “a loaded gun at our heads.”
Second, this is a different Egypt today, under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and it views Hamas as a threat rather than a potential ally. It has no interest in saving Hamas or allowing it to gain from the current conflict. Third, the Saudis, Emiratis and Jordanians see the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which Hamas sprang, as just as threatening as Iran. These moderate Arab states want to see Hamas lose and not win.
Kerry, to his credit, envisioned the cease-fire he was trying to arrange as one in which fighting would stop but Israel could finish destroying the tunnels. It has not worked yet, but if the U.S. works exclusively through the Egyptians, it may yet happen.
The administration needs to approach the Middle East with the broader goal of how it can ensure that U.S. friends in the region are stronger and their adversaries (and ours) are weaker. Ultimately, President Obama and Secretary Kerry would be wise to approach the current conflict, and its end, with that objective in mind. The writer served as special assistant to President Barack Obama from 2009-11. (Politico)
Since 2005, the initial cause of each round of fighting has been repeated attempts by Hamas to change the strategic facts on the ground. In each round, Israel’s decisive military edge has left Hamas weaker than before and failed to have any meaningful political impact that benefited Hamas. Each time, Hamas has recovered its ability to pose a threat while it has improved its tunneling efforts and capability to use rockets, missiles and mortars to strike into Israeli territory – although without any meaningful strategic benefits to Hamas.
When one looks at the cost to Palestinian civilians of Hamas’ actions, it is impossible to respect any aspect of Hamas’ intentions and strategy. There is something inherently horrifying in using a population as a weapon. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
Hamas’ use of human shields is possibly the key element of their strategy. So you see images of dead babies, women screaming about their children, and no reality can overcome those images. It is heart-wrenching. The problem is that there’s no reference, no open-mindedness to the fact that the only reason that these children have been killed is because of Hamas’ aggression towards Israel.
Israel is at a disadvantage too because while Israel might understand the need to come out with a rapid message of the truth of what’s happening in the conflict, it still has to be utterly faithful to facts and cannot afford to get it wrong, or to exaggerate. Hamas, on the other hand, can say whatever they want and it doesn’t get challenged, and if it does get challenged it doesn’t matter for them because they’re not accountable to anyone.
A few days ago I spoke to an Israeli pilot that told me that the same morning he had aborted an enemy target a total of 17 times because there were civilians in the target zone, and eventually he abandoned the operation. That to me, is one of the best things about the Israel Air Force – that the very last thing they want to do is bomb a target and have that on their conscience for the rest of their lives. And it was the same thing with infantry soldiers. In fact, in terms of civilian casualties, the attitude of IDF solders is the exact mirror image of the way they’re portrayed to the world.
British soldiers lives have also been saved by Israeli battlefield medical technology and also by Israeli counter-bomb technology, that is, technological equipment that stops or detects improvised explosive devices like roadside bombs. British soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan have been saved and are being saved by that technology. Beyond that, British and Israeli intelligence cooperation is extremely tight and that has saved the lives not just of soldiers but of British civilians as well.
The Jewish people should be extremely proud of the State of Israel. They should try their best to disregard the terrible anti-Israeli propaganda that is designed solely to contribute to the conspiracy to exterminate the State of Israel. Israel is the one country in the Western world today that is standing up for its morality and for its values against the onslaught of international jihad. Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp is the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. (Algemeiner)
Where did Hamas get the cement to produce its concrete-lined attack tunnels, especially in light of the Israeli blockade and an overall shortage of cement? While the civilian sector in Gaza suffered from a lack of building materials, Hamas had no problem obtaining thousands of tons of cement. Unfortunately, part of the cement that Israel allowed to enter Gaza for humanitarian needs ended up in Hamas’ hands.
In addition, cement was brought in through smuggling tunnels from Egypt for years, especially during the period when the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt (June 2012 to June 2013). During that time, an average of between 400 and 3,000 tons of cement, iron, and building stone entered Gaza daily via the tunnels. High-quality cement came from Turkey to the port at El-Arish in Sinai. The Egyptian authorities at the time were aware of the flow but did nothing to stop it.
Beginning in 2011, complaints by Gaza contractors about the quality of the cement coming through the tunnels started appearing in the Palestinian press, with concerns voiced that newly built homes would one day collapse. It appears that in the private sector, cheaper Egyptian cement was often switched for what was labeled as high quality cement. One cement merchant in Gaza explained that suppliers would deliver a truckload of cement sacks. The outer ones were Turkish cement, while those beneath were Egyptian. Anyone who complained or tried to return the cement quickly found himself threatened by the military arm of Hamas, and dropped his complaint.
Two years ago, Israel approved Qatari financing of reconstruction projects in Gaza at a cost of $400 million. A large amount of Egyptian military grade cement was allowed into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. The moment the cement entered Gaza, Hamas took control of it. The Qataris didn’t really care what happened to the cement and the other building materials they paid for.
When the Egyptian army closed the smuggling tunnels, a serious delay in Qatar’s building projects in Gaza was announced. The local reaction was surprise, since Egypt had sent to Gaza all the materials that were needed for the Qatari projects. (Calcalist-Hebrew)
Until 2011 Iran was Hamas’ “sugar daddy,” with an estimated 80% of the aid from Tehran going directly to the military wing of Hamas. Syria, another source of funds, cut off Hamas after it backed the Sunni forces fighting the Assad regime in that country’s civil war, as did Iran for the same reason. Qatar has taken up some of the slack, as has Turkey, which has spent $350 million on projects in Gaza. In contrast to the money from Qatar, it is clear the Turkish funds actually reached their intended recipients.
In its early years, before it was designated a terrorist organization and banned from receiving funds, Hamas raised most of its funding openly, from wealthy Muslims in Europe and the U.S. That route has been closed, but money continues to enter Gaza in cash-filled suitcases, through the tunnels from Egypt. (Ha’aretz)
“Israel in the Middle East is fighting on behalf of the free world,” declared Mosab Hassan Yousef, the outspoken son of Hamas leader Hassan Yousef. “Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians, or the lives of Israelis, or Americans; they don’t care about their own lives,” Yousef told CNN. “They consider dying for their ideology a way of worship.”
“Their goal is to conquer the globe and build an Islamic state on every inch of the globe….[Hamas] is willing to sacrifice as many Palestinian lives as it takes.”
“Hamas is not seeking co-existence and compromise. Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over. And by the way, the destruction of the State of Israel is not Hamas’ final destination. Hamas’s final destination is building the Islamic caliphate, which means an Islamic state over the rubble of every other civilization.” (New York Post)
If one were primarily concerned about Palestinian children – whose deaths are indeed an abomination – one would demand that Hamas operatives leave the hospital basements where they have buried their command centers, move the rocket launchers that they have installed in the doorways of UN schools, and stop threatening parents who wish to evacuate their homes when an Israeli leaflet informs them that a strike is imminent.
Bluntly anti-Semitic slogans have marred most European demonstrations “in support of the people of Gaza.” Residents of Frankfurt and Dortmund were horrified in mid-July to see neo-Nazi groups join hands with Islamists in a grim chant: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” The center of London was blocked on July 19 by thousands who gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Kensington to shout their hatred for Jews. (Wall Street Journal)